PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – They might be cute and fluffy and tempting to approach, but the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is reminding the public to stay away from seals, sea lions and their pups. 

In June, pacific harbor seal pupping season is in full swing and it’s not uncommon for people to see pups left alone on shoreline rocks or the beach while their mother hunts in the ocean. Mother seals must eat so they’re able to feed their pup. 

However, if a mother seal returns to shore and sees activity near her pup, she might not rejoin it. 

That’s why it’s important for people to avoid pups when they see them. 

ODFW said other marine mammals that also spend time on the beaches in summer include California sea lions and elephant seals. Elephant seals molt this time of year and ODFW said while they might not look pretty, they are not sick. 

All marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and it is a violation of federal and state laws to harass, touch or feed marine mammals. 

The Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network documents and investigates marine mammal stranding events. It is primarily a volunteer organization and ODFW said it does not provide rehabilitation services to harbor seals, elephant seals and California sea lions, in accordance with ODFW’s policy on marine mammal rehabilitation

Anyone who discovers a marine mammal that is obviously injured, sick or being harassed, report it to the Oregon State Police tip line at 1-800-452-7888.